Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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7/25/2011

The Captains

Filed under: — stan @ 11:35 pm

Tonight, Kathleen and I went over to Hollywood Forever for a special screening of “The Captains“. This is a documentary by William Shatner, where he goes to meet and interview all of the actors who have played starship captains in all the incarnations of “Star Trek“. It was a chance for him to confront and embrace what is surely his legacy, and to talk with the others and share their feelings on their participation in “Star Trek”, which will likely be the one thing they will all be remembered best for having done.

As one would expect, there were lots of fans there in “Star Trek” costumes. I don’t have a costume, but I brought along my tribble. And each incarnation of the show and each captain had its own set of fans. Even after all these years, it’s still an amazing thing that it took on a life of its own and became such a pervasive part of our culture.

William Shatner was there to introduce the film. Beforehand, I saw him in the middle of a little scrum of photographer, along with Henry Rollins. (WTF? Henry Rollins? What’s he doing here?) In his introduction to the film, Shatner spoke of how strange it was to be introducing this film at the cemetery in Hollywood. Looking over the back wall, we could see the sound stage where they filmed the original “Star Trek”, nearly 50 years ago. He talked about how he originally came to the part of Captain Kirk, and how nobody really thought the show would amount to much in the long run. And his having to come to terms with the fact that that one role has in many ways come to define his life. Apparently, it’s been an interesting journey.

The film itself was very entertaining. The other captains all came into it with at least a bit more warning that they were doing something that would be career-defining, since they all came along after “Star Trek” had become a worldwide phenomenon. Each one had a slightly different take on how their character should work, and hearing their reminiscences was a lot of fun.

In the end, Shatner came to terms with his legacy, which was the main reason he made this film. It was a lot of fun, and I highly recommend it.

7/18/2011

Title goes here

Filed under: — stan @ 9:58 pm

It’s July, and that means it’s time for my annual spiritual pilgrimage back to Austin, Texas. Time to visit friends, have some fun, and generally enjoy being a Big Cheese for a few days.

Kathleen and I flew out of Long Beach early Friday morning. As always, JetBlue was on time. Sadly, the TV on the plane was broken. So we had no entertainment. But that was all right. I can be amused just by looking out the window.

On the way into Austin, we could see Lake Travis out the window. I’d looked it up, and the water level was very low this summer. Something to do with not having had rain for two months. Paolo had said we could come out to his house on Sunday to play in the lake, but that it was now a bit of a hike to get down to the water.

This year, the event was being held in the Airport Hilton, so we didn’t have to really do anything to get there. Just picked up the phone and they sent a van over to the terminal to pick us up. After we got checked in, we headed down to meet up with the group for the opening dinner social at Patsy’s Cowgirl Cafe.

After dinner, we went downtown. The next part of the event was a social at the Chain Drive, but first we went to see the famous Congress Ave bridge bat colony. It was an impressive sight to see so many bats flying out all at once. Then we headed over the place and I got to see some more old friends and schmooze a lot. It was a fun evening.

Saturday was mostly in the hotel. The lobby there was cold like a meat locker. After the daytime activities, we gathered up some of the presenters and all went to dinner at the Catfish Parlour. I finally got my fried okra. When we came out, it was starting to get dark, so they had the giant neon catfish sign turned on. After that, it was time to head out to the big party.

On Sunday morning, the event concluded with a breakfast buffet and keynote talk. The presenter was quite good, and he was very entertaining to listen to. After the talk, we hung around the room until everyone had left. I figured I should enjoy being a Big Cheese for as long as possible. And indeed, when we finally left, I could feel my cheese shrinking back down to its normal size.

Sunday afternoon was the Lake Splash. We headed out to Paolo’s, with a stop at Central Market to get food. And it still pains me to say that I really do wish that we had something like Central Market here in L.A. My hat’s off the the people at HEB for pulling it off. They really did a good job with that place.

The water at Lake Travis was indeed very low. The place where we finally set up our picnic is usually under about 40 feet of water. There were a lot of old drowned tree stumps, and the buoys that usually mark safe boating depth were just lying on the limestone. It was kind of surreal. But the water was still nice. Made the heat almost bearable.

Monday was our visiting day. We checked out and took Capitol Metro into town to meet my old friend Mike for breakfast. Then Stu came and picked us up and we headed out for a day’s worth of playing tourist.

We went to Mellow Johnny’s. I got a new water bottle and a jersey. Then we headed over to the park to see the dinosaur garden. After that, Stu took us out to Elgin for the famous barbecue there. And finally, we went back into town and spent the rest of our afternoon at the Yellow Rose.

The flight home was all right. But the TV was broken again. I checked my pictures, and this was a different plane this time. But it was broken none the less. But the upside is that JetBlue gave us a $15 credit for each TV-less leg of our trip. So we can put that towards our tickets to Chicago this fall when we go there for the Sears Willis Tower stair climb.

All told, it was a very fun weekend. And yes, my cheese has now returned to its normal size.

7/7/2011

Shakespeare in the Park

Filed under: — stan @ 11:34 pm

Last summer, Kathleen and I used to have picnics at the Old Zoo in Griffith Park. And while we were there, we saw the Independent Shakespeare Company doing their summer show in the park. We were having a picnic there last week, and we saw the rehearsals, so tonight we decided to go back and have another picnic and see the show.

The show was a reinterpretation of “The Merry Wives of Windsor“, set in 1920s London. The show got a good review in the L.A. Times. Neither of us is especially familiar with Shakespeare’s plays, but we looked up some information about it beforehand, and Kathleen brought up a synopsis of it on her iPhone, so we were able to refer to that at times when it wasn’t clear what was happening.

All in all, it was a very fun evening.

7/4/2011

Echo Mountain for the 4th

Filed under: — stan @ 11:58 pm

Tonight, Kathleen, Lucinda, and I hiked up Echo Mountain above Altadena to watch the fireworks. Apparently, this is a popular thing to do, since there was a pretty big crowd headed up the trail. It’s about 2 1/2 miles to the top, and by the time we got there, most of the prime picnic spots were taken. But we managed to find a reasonable place to set up, and we had a little picnic while we waited for the sun to go down.

When night fell, we could see the entire Los Angeles basin laid out in front of us. And we could see people setting off backyard fireworks all over the city. Some of them were quite large. But when it got to be 9:00, the big fireworks shows started. The one at the Rose Bowl was the closest to us, but we could see them going on all the way down to Long Beach, which is something like 35 miles away as the crow flies. We could also see a big show going on at Dodger Stadium, which was just in front of the downtown skyscrapers, and another show going on just beyond downtown. It was kind of strange to see the fireworks peeking through the gaps between the big buildings.

I’d brought a light tripod, and I set my camera up on it. I set it on the timer, and had it take several shots at a time. There’s no way to hold the camera steady enough without a tripod, and it’s best if I’m not even touching it when it’s shooting, so I just had it snap away by itself. And I got some nice pictures just by random chance.

When it was all over, everyone headed back down the trail at the same time. The hike down was like driving the 405 on a Friday afternoon. Lots of stopping and waiting. But it was still a fun little adventure, and I think we’re going to do it again next year.

6/25/2011

Evening Electric

Filed under: — stan @ 10:27 pm

On Saturday night, Kathleen and I went over to Glendale for Evening Electric, which was a small party put on by the Museum of Neon Art in their new home on Brand Blvd. This was just a preview, and the museum won’t be opening there for real until next year, but it was a chance to see the space with a few pieces of their collection in it. They also had drinks, food, and a silent auction to benefit the museum.

And yes, it’s still my favorite art museum.

We had a nice time there. The food was good, and there was an open bar, complete with an animated electric sign. They said that the sign really used to say “BAR-B-Q”, but they just left off the last part of it for tonight. The cake was a rather alarming shade of red, but everyone said it tasted good. They had a guy playing a singing saw, which was interesting. Sort of like an acoustic version of a theremin.

In the end, I bid on only one item in the silent auction, but I got to bring it home. It’s a small plasma dome, and it’s entertaining to watch with the lights off. And it’s for a good cause, since it helps raise money to support the museum.

It was an entertaining evening.

What is it they say about a bowl of cherries?

Filed under: — stan @ 4:09 pm

On Saturday morning, Lucinda and I went to Leona Valley with Kathleen and her daughters to all go picking cherries. I’d never been there before, but I looked it up on the map, and Leona Valley is a long, straight valley west of Palmdale, and the San Andreas Fault runs right down the middle of it. So I was curious to see how obvious the fault would be on the ground there.

We all met up in Newhall and then we all went the rest of the way in my car, since it’s big enough for five. When we got there, we had a look a the cherry orchards that were open and picked on to go in. We got our buckets and went to it.

They said that they had a small crop this year, due to a hard freeze late last winter, but there were lots of cherries on the trees, and we quickly filled the buckets. In the end, we had something like 12 pounds of cherries, and they were very good.

After that, we found a shady spot and had a little picnic before heading home.

It was a fun little morning adventure. And I even found a new hot-rod mailbox:

mailbox

6/23/2011

More Disneyland

Filed under: — stan @ 10:33 pm

Today was the after-the-last-day-of-school trip to Disneyland. But Lucinda’s friends who have Disneyland passes couldn’t come. I told Lucinda that I’d made the arrangements, and Kathleen and I were going anyway, regardless of whether she wanted to go or not. So she stayed home and we went and had a nice day at the Magic Kingdom.

When we got there, we headed straight for the newly-reopened Star Tours, only to find that everyone else had had the same idea. This wasn’t really a surprise, but I’d hoped that the line might be not more than an hour. But it was too long. So we walked over and got some Fast Passes for Space Mountain for later in the day. Getting passes for that ride is like buying savings bonds. You have wait a long time for them to mature. In the meantime, we rode Big Thunder Mountain twice, California Screamin’ four times, had lunch, and rode the new Little Mermaid ride. By then, our passes for Space Mountain were ripe and ready, so we walked over there and went in.

We got all the way down to the last ramp when something happened and they shut the ride down. They turned on the lights, which was kind of weird. And they brought all the trains down. Apparently they have something like eight or nine trains running at a time in there. After a few minutes, they reset whatever had gone wrong, and they started it up again. So we finally got our ride on it.

We finished off the day at the Jungle Cruise and Pirates of the Caribbean. Both old favorites. I thought it was funny that the ducks on the jungle cruise know that the alligator isn’t real, even a lot of small children don’t realize that.

All told, it was a fun day.

6/19/2011

Another trip to San Diego

Filed under: — stan @ 10:31 pm

This past weekend, Kathleen, Lucinda and I went to San Diego to visit my father, see the seals, and also visit the zoo.

We drove down there on Saturday morning. We had lunch with Grandpa, and then we went to La Jolla to see the seals. Sadly, there were few seals to be seen. The anti-seal people were asserting their ‘right’ to use the beach, and they scared most of the seals away. There were a couple swimming around just offshore, but most of them were camped out on a rock some distance out.

This was a big disappointment. Every time we go to San Diego, we make a point to go see the seals, and we’re there to see seals. We can look at people at any one of the many beaches in San Diego, but there’s only one where we can see seals.

After that minor fiasco, we went back and took Grandpa to Prado in Balboa Park for dinner. We go a bottle of The Pessimist wine with dinner. I kind of expected the bottle to be half-empty. As always, the food was great. We had a nice time there.

On Sunday morning, we went back to La Jolla. The seals usually come ashore by sunset, since the people leave then, and they’re usually still on the beach in the morning. But not today. There were already people on the beach, and the seals were scared away again. We saw some of them in the water, and a lot were on the same rock offshore, but there were none on the beach.

We took a walk and saw some sea lions on the rocks just a little bit north of the seal beach. We also visited Sunny Jim Cave. We’ve been there several times now, and they guy who runs the cave store remembered us.

After that, we went back to visit Grandpa again. My aunt and uncle had come to visit for the day, so we all went to lunch at Costa Brava in Pacific Beach.

On Sunday afternoon, Kathleen, Lucinda and I went to the San Diego Zoo. This was my first time there since 1987, and Lucinda was interested in seeing the giant pandas. We had a nice time there.

The pictures of the seals and sea lions at La Jolla Cove, as well as the zoo pictures, are all here:

animal pictures

Lucinda’s pictures are here.

6/9/2011

Art Walk

Filed under: — stan @ 10:38 pm

Tonight was the monthly Art Walk in downtown Los Angeles. We’d gone to this back in April, and it was a fun time. Lucinda and I went downtown and met up with Kathleen there. We made the rounds of the galleries and the food trucks. We got ice cream from the Lake Street Creamery, which was good, as always. We found the Grilled Cheese Truck, but sadly, the line for it was too long. I suppose that’s a recommendation. The Lobsta Truck also had a really long line.

We started out the evening at the Museum of Neon Art, since this is their last week downtown before they move to their new home in Glendale. From there, we just sort of randomly wandered around, looking in the galleries. There was lots of nice art, some old signs, and lots of neon. One of the galleries was in the old Los Angeles Stock Exchange, which was a very ornate and interesting building. There were even swastikas decorating one of the very old bank buildings on Spring Street.

All told, it was a fun evening.

6/2/2011

Art on a Thursday night

Filed under: — stan @ 10:47 pm

On Thursday night, Kathleen and I met up downtown to go to a little art gallery party at Art Share in downtown Los Angeles. This is a small community art center in an old warehouse and the gallery was showing art by five artists who have been active in the downtown art scene for many years. It was a small show, but fun. There was even some minor excitement when Malia K showed up with her entourage. We have no idea who she is, but everyone seemed to think she was some sort of Big Deal.

In the end, I bought a print of Mirpolsky’s “Sharks” for my house.

All in all, it was a fun evening adventure.

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